Last week, we ended our work with Tectonic Theatre Project on their work SQUARE PEGS, ROUND HOLES, a work about autism. This whole school year we were studying autism, watching movies and videos, asking hard questions and creating moments, with a presentation at the end of each work period for the semester. There is no way this post is going to do justice to the process and how it changed me, but here goes.
This is going down as one of the pieces of art that has altered me as a person and a writer (ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Attwood is one of the others). Reading about autism, watching movies like LOVING LAMPPOSTS, making moments--all of this has changed my life.
And working with Andy Paris and Anushka Paris Carter, as well as various other Tectonic Theatre people was an absolute delight and dream come true. I didn't think an opportunity like this would come by but maybe once or twice in a lifetime, so I knew I needed to take the opportunity when I could. And it turned out more than I could imagined. The Tectonic Theatre people are some of the most creative, deep, caring, committed, fun, intelligent people I have had the honor of working with. This work changed me--I am more tolerant when it comes to people whose behavior isn't NT--because you don't know what is going on with those people. I have gained a better understanding of myself in terms of possibly being on the spectrum and I have learned a lot from those on the spectrum I have met and becoming friends with (as well as some parents of those on the spectrum).
I also learned that there's a lot of things that need to change in this world as far as those who are differently abled. We all talk a good game about being inclusive, and there are lots of businesses, etc., that are inclusive. But it's made me pay more attention to things. Like, there's a school in Waterloo that is going to be closing at the end of the school year, and it's a school for kids with disabilities. There's a battle about whether kids with disabilities should be integrated or educated separately--the only stand I will make on it is that it should be decided based on what each child needs--not as a blanket decision--but upon hearing this, I wondered about the kids, the parents, the teachers, and what would happen to them next year.
I digress. This was the best thing I could have done for myself as an artist and a person. My world has expanded--thank you, Tectonic Theatre Project! Hope to see you back in Cedar Falls, Iowa, soon and then we can all have some French Fries for Jesus.
Please check out their site--you won't regret it. http://www.tectonictheaterproject.org/Tectonic.html